US $ 12 b export target
Despite a reversal in the rate of exports decline and evidence of
some improvement, Sri Lanka is actively moving to help its exporters to
face the global downturn -with a challenging new $ 12 billion export
goal set for 2012, said Industry and Commerce Ministry Secretary Anura
"Since exporters, who account for nearly 80 percent of Sri Lanka's
export earnings possess valuable understanding, experiences, suggestions
and comments which we believe could be
very useful for our national drive, we respectfully invite your
valuable feedback to us today to turn our export performance around
further and place it back on track to sustain our global competitive
advantage. To this end, let me energise you with Minister Rishad
Bathiudeen's new export target of $ 12 billion for 2012. Let us face
take on this challenge jointly to meet $ 20 Bn by 2020"
Siriwardene was addressing titans of Sri Lanka's exports on September
12 at Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo. The export giants, who almost
oversee 80% of Sri Lanka's annual exports, were invited to the Grand by
Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen's Export Development
Board to jointly map strategies to accelerate export earning targets for
2012 (Minister Bathiudeen was indisposed at the event due to his tight
Secretary Siriwrdene announced: "Minister Bathiudeen has now revised
the national export goal for 2012 to $ 12 billion from the previous $
"All the sectors of export were present -including apparel, rubber
products, gems and jewellery, spices, food and beverages and IT/BPO/KPO.
Among the sectoral leaders and associations present were the Joint
Apparel Association Forum (JAAF- the pioneer association of apparel
export industry in Sri Lanka), Hirdaramani Industries Ltd, Omega Line
Ltd, Orit Trading Lanka, MAS Holdings, Brandix, Akbar Group of
Companies, Jafferjee Brothers, Loadstar (Pvt) Ltd, Ansel (Lanka) Ltd, Eu
-Retec (Pvt) Ltd, Lalan Rubbers (Pvt) Ltd, Nithyakalyani Jewellers,
Ellawala Exports Pvt Ltd, Ishana Exports (Pvt) Ltd, Spices & Allied
Product Producers' and Traders' Association, the Spice Council, Edna
Group of Companies, Prima , Virtusa (Pvt) Ltd, IFS Solution Asia Pacific
Pte Ltd, Colombo Dockyard PLC, Neil Marine (Pvt) Ltd and various trade
chambers such as the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka,
Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL),
National Chamber of Exporters and Exporters' Association of Sri Lanka.
Almost all export leaders present praised the Ministry of Industry
and Commerce and its Export Development Board for the timely initiative.
"We are happy that the government has understood our needs and called us
"This is very timely" said Chairman of Spice Council Sarada De Silva
addressing the meet. "And now we need action" he said and added:
"The spice export sector views devaluation of the rupee positively. I
am sure that many other exporters feel the same. We also welcome
development finance support as well as endorsement of Madrid Protocol
and Lisbon Agreement for our sector."
"Most exporters -across almost all sectors-expressed that imp-ex
levies and taxes, strong need for training and development and human
resource strengthening, research and development capacity upgrade with
tax relief for R and D expenses given to private sector, fuel/energy and
labour costs control support, biomass energy support, global branding
and market development assistance, links to newly opening markets such
as Myanmar, technology upgrade to sustain high value additions, are
welcome assistance for them.
Secretary Siriwardene said: "our exports grew strongly during the
year 2011 registering a commendable growth of 22.1% continuing the
upward trend of 2010.
This positive trend also showed that the export development vision of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is working well. However, as you may have
experienced already due to the global downturn, our export earnings up
to June 2012 registered a slight drop of 2.5 percent as against the same
period in 2011. Still, I should stress that this is an improvement
against the 5.4% fall in export earnings during January to May 2012.
"I am pleased to state that despite the difficult international
markets, thanks to you-our export community's committed efforts- we
predict that our total exports in 2012, to be around dollar 10.1
To uplift our export revenue, the Export Development Board under my
Ministry is now actively focusing on diversification of export products
and markets, value addition, brand promotion, productivity improvement,
product adaptation, market communication and market development efforts,
" he said.
"However, we need your valuable support and input for our efforts.
While thanking you for accepting our invitation today, since you, the
distinguished exporters, who account for nearly 80% of Sri Lanka's
export earnings also have valuable understanding, experience,
suggestions and comments in this, which we believe could be very useful
for our national drive, we respectfully invite your valuable feedback to
us today to turn our export performance around and place it back on
track thereby sustaining our global competitive advantage."
Siriwardene added: "I am also pleased to announce that we have
succeeded in our discussion with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka for
focused Development Banking support to our exports and exports
manufacturing sector. We are now working on this and Full details will
be announced when the process is ready, " Siriwardene said.
ECN Cahairman/CEO Janaka Ratnayake said, Of the more than 3,500 of
our exporters, six percent-that is 210- exporters handle 85% of our
exports, which is around $ 9 Bn.
"We are here to address your issues specially at a time when the
international market climate is tightening." Ratnayake added: "Our
market diversification is taking place and we are on track. Our current
market diversification is aimed at India, China and Far East, among
others, and in fact, exports to India has risen by 17%. We are also in a
positive situation as for Madrid Protocol and Lisbon Agreement."